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Issue #33








12:31 8/29/2020

katie wills evans


it’s 12:31 on a saturday

what still feels like morning

on the day after the anniversary

in the middle of a too-close-for-comfort

heart-hurts-for-the-neighbors season


our nerves have been bad

and you’ve struggled to sleep

so while the fat baby raindrops of today’s daily summer shower are beautiful in the window the bang bangs of thunder

have my heart rate up


our phones are full of mourning

there’s not even a gasp of air between

new waves of grief

for a king

for so many

and Letetra said

make sure I say

father

cousin

son

uncle

human

all while there’s still no justice for Breonna


somehow we’ve gotten out of bed


somehow

more surprising still

we have found joy


we have reseasoned the food

and smoked the blunt

and sang the harmony parts

and dreamed and dreamed and dreamed

now you are at the other end of our couch

concentratedly strolling through assata’s autobiography

and i am chewing on Audre’s line

“Promise corrupts

what it does not invent”

while wondering how to look

my kids in the eyes on monday


i get startled again

(i am always startled)

by the mail woman on the porch moving from our mailbox to the neighbors’ and get annoyed before i remember to be grateful before i remember to be afraid again


and i suppose

as far as constant cognitive dissonance goes

this is as good as it gets

but how long

can we do this?



Bio: I'm a disabled, whitetrash, hardfemme abolitionist who’s been an emotional reader and unfaithful writer her whole life. I spent a glorious, heart-wrenching decade teaching and learning literature and civics in New Orleans with brilliant young adults and now write full time while traveling. I write a mix of poetry, essays, and short stories, manage a burgeoning newsletter and media platform, and have begun my first novel, specifically for queer young adults. Find me on Instagram and Twitter.








Your Music, Stoppered

Ayesha Asad


Let me take you back five years

ago, when we crossed our legs on

carpets that greened beneath us,

our bodies erupting in sound,


sweet-ridden rind

traveling in our lungs.

That moment, when chime spilled

into our throats & ears,


you reached for it

like you could pluck it from its root.

You always worked harder

to uncork your tongue from


the inside of your jawline – &

it hardly showed. Instead,

teachers bricked & basined you

with a boatload, probing out


a thirst you carried deep

in your walled skin. Riveted

& spurned, you looked to strangers on

Omegle to uplift you – & you flowered


in your own way, crowned through

your crafting & sprite painted wings.

In your chunky silvered

boots you patented your music,


searched out how to sew up your

prodded ligaments & blue-jointed

knuckles, extracted the seeds

that had weeded your throat


& holed your esophagus.

Look, let me tell you how it was

from my end. I hadn’t even

bloomed yet. I quieted


from lip to ankle. I didn’t know

what plane you angled on,

what line graphed the meridian

of your heart & lung.


Look, let me tell you

that when I speak this,

your voice lusters beside me. A star

on your pinky. How your limbs refuse

to burn out.




Ayesha Asad is from Dallas, Texas. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in PANK, Cosmonauts Avenue, Sundog Lit, DIAGRAM, Reunion: The Dallas Review, Menacing Hedge, Qu Literary Magazine, and elsewhere. Her writing has been recognized by Creative Writing Ink Journal and the Robert Bone Memorial Creative Writing Prize. She studies Literature and Biology at the University of Texas at Dallas. In her free time, she likes to dream. She was born in 2001. Find Ayesha on Twitter.






On Biting

Federica Santini


Creatures that bite:

dogs and other canids

the small insects that infect skin and scalp

long-fingered sirens with harsh voices

women convulsing at childbirth

(place a clean cloth between their teeth)

lovers

the recluse in her secretive cell


spiders

spiders

spiders


you with your mouth filled with life




Federica Santini lives in a pink Victorian in Atlanta, GA, and teaches Gender and Women's Studies and Italian at Kennesaw State University. A literary critic, poet, and translator, her work has been published in over forty journals and volumes. Her first chapbook, Unearthed, is forthcoming with Kelsay Press.